Second generation therapy gives hope for full cure for CML patients

The second annual conference of the Egyptian Blood Cancer Society was held on Monday, focusing on the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) with the second generation of targeted therapies.
The meeting gathered a large group of specialists, including Hossam Kamel, a professor of hematology at the National Institute of Oncology.
The CML is a malignant disease that affects hematopoietic cells of the spinal cord, before being transmitted to the blood, and may affect other parts of the body, said Ashraf al-Ghandour, a professor of hematology and undersecretary of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alexandria.
The annual CML infection rate is 1.5 percent per 100,000 people. The average age of patients is 40 years, he added.
The tremendous success in the treatment of this disease is part of a medical breakthrough in the treatment of tumors in general, especially blood cancers.
Ten years ago, targeted therapies succeeded in transforming cancer from a deadly disease to a disease that can be treated and controlled through preventing its progress, said Ghandour.
He pointed out that the new targeted therapies are divided into two generations. The second one is considered a quantum leap, as it has raised patients' survival rates by 45-85 percent compared to first-generation drugs.
A medical breakthrough in the treatment of CML has occurred over the past 50 years, turning this type of cancer into a curable disease, treatable with drugs instead of transplants, Kamel said.
The amount of patients who undergo bone marrow transplants decreased from 34 percent to less than 3 percent over the past 5 years, he added.
For the first time, a CML patient can discontinue treatment thanks to the superior efficacy of the new drugs, which reduce the rate of leukemia in the blood. This is good news for women who have contracted the disease at an early age and seek to give birth after recovery, according to Kamel.
Manal al-Serdy, professor at the blood and genetic diseases department at the University of Alexandria, praised the efforts of the Ministry of Health to provide treatment for patients through state-provided health insurance.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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